You can read the full transcript of the interview below.

BBC: Well the unions say that the David Ross Education Trust is proposing to cut one million pounds from school budgets across 32 schools. 8 of those are in our region. The David Ross Education Trust says financial pressures mean they are looking at the best way to use their admin staff to benefit the education of children they dispute the figures that the unions have used and they are surprised the unions have taken this unusual step.

They also say that many of their staff agree that the move is in the best interest of children’s education.

Well it’s a minefield isn’t it school funding especially when it comes to academies vs state schools. And to make a little more sense of it, on the line is Head of Academies at Bishop Fleming Chartered Accountants Joe Scaife.

Pleased to say to clear a bit of it up.

Good morning to you Joe, thank you for joining us.

JS: Good morning.

BBC: Hi, you also audit the second largest number of academies in the country so you’re the person we need to talk to about this.

When it comes to a decision like we’ve heard from the David Ross foundation, the proposals they’ve put forward does it surprise you?

JS: In a way no, because as you referred to in one of your previous clips that there is the education sector at the moment is having to make significant savings. There was a report out just before Christmas saying that over three billion pounds of savings had to be made across schools as a whole, whether they are in the academies sector or still local authority control. So altogether three billion pounds worth of savings equates to about 8% altogether and so we’re seeing this across a number of our clients and across the education sector as a whole.

BBC: When it comes to academies they can choose each academy or each trust can choose how they make those savings can they?

JS: That’s right there’s probably more flexibility if you are an academy but then again if you’re a school as part of a multi-academy trust there isn’t the local authority to fall back on in the first place, and probably about a quarter of the schools in the country now are academy schools rather than within the local authority.

BBC: What just explain to us in a bit more detail why they’re having to make these savings?

JS: Well I think this is just part of the overall cuts that we hear about all the time across various different aspects of the public sector. So in effect whilst they the National Audit Office saying that the sector as a whole has an increase in funding, the issue that there is that there’s a large increase in pupil numbers coming through the schools, initially primary schools and then heading up through to secondary schools as well. So what they’re actually saying is that you need to look to make these savings what we’re seeing is that some schools are looking to make these savings over a gradual period of time, they’ve said that there’s five years altogether to make these savings so some are looking to start making the savings now others making the savings at the moment hoping things may improve or because they think that certain events may happen in the future that will improve the financial position.

BBC: Some people are uneasy for want of a better word about the whole academy process and the fact that they’re in effect businesses trusts but businesses versus our local authority running schools. Would that make any does that make any difference when it comes to the amount of money that needs to be saved and the way that it can be saved do you think?

JS: That’s a good question that there’s been a lot of debate about the academy sector versus local authority controlled sector I think the jury is still out it would be fair to say there are arguments in both directions. I think what you do have is more flexibility within multi-academy trusts the one that you’re referring to I think you said had 32 schools altogether that is one of the much larger ones in the country the majority of the academies in the country are in multi-academy trusts of less than five schools and at the moment the education funding agency which funds these has identified that actually schools typically would need to be in groups of 15-20 to make what you call economies of scale where it’s easier to make the savings. So the one that you’re describing is certainly of that size so there is almost an expectation that one of that size will be looking to make economies of scale.

BBC: Joe thank you very much for your time today, Joe Scaife who is Head of Academy at Bishop Fleming Chartered Accountants.


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Bishop Fleming is one of the UK’s leading accountants to the academy school sector.

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